The widow of a 24-year-old Dalit Christian, who was hacked to death in Telangana’s Miryalguda on September 14, said her father had asked her to undergo an abortion and wait for a couple of years for things to settle down.
“But we never expected that he had evil plans and would get my husband killed so brutally,” said Amrutha Varshini, 20, a day after her husband, Perumalla Pranay Kumar, 24, was buried on Sunday.
Varshini’s father, Tirunagari Maruthi Rao, who was upset with her for marrying Kumar, allegedly hired contract killers to get his son-in-law killed. Kumar was hacked to death with a machete when the couple was coming out of a hospital in Telangana’s Miryalguda town on September 14. Rao is a rich upper-caste Vysya realtor.
Rao, his brother, Shravan and friend, Abdul Karim, who heads the local Congress unit, were detained for questioning on Monday. “We have obtained some credible leads in the killing of Pranay and we are hopeful of cracking the case by Tuesday,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity.
Rao is believed to have hired killers for Rs 10 lakh with Karim’s help. “We are suspecting that eight to 10 people were involved in the murder, directly or indirectly,” the officer said.
Kumar’s father, Perumalla Balaswamy, a Life Insurance Corporation of India employee, was terrified. He feared for the rest of his family if was Varshini stayed on with them. “She was in a state of shock after the incident and got admitted to the same hospital.”
Varshini has vowed to stay with her in-laws. “We asked her whether she would go to her parents’ house… But she was firm that she would stay back with us and would never go to her father, who got my son killed,” said Balaswamy.
He said they would stand by her come what may. “She is now our daughter and not daughter-in-law. She even tied rakhi to my younger son, Ajay, who is studying medicine in Ukraine. We will take care of her for the rest of her life. We shall prove to the world that caste would have to face defeat at the hands of humanity.”
Varshini said she was treated like a princess ever since she became pregnant five months ago. “Neither Pranay nor his parents used to allow me to do any work. My husband used to treat me like a doll. He used to take me to the hospital regularly. Even on the day he was killed, he forced me to go to the doctor for a check-up as I was not feeling well. I just cannot forget the kind of affection and love he showered on me.”
She said religion was never an issue for them. “On Ganesh Chaturthi day on Thursday, Pranay performed the Ganesh puja for me as I was not well.”
“I do not need anybody’s support now. Pranay is growing inside me. Whether it is a boy or girl, the baby will be his replica. I will lead rest of my life taking care of baby Pranay,” Varshini told journalists at her in-laws’ residence in Miryalaguda on Monday.
The couple has been close friends since their school days. “More than my father, my uncle (Rao’s brother) Sravan would beat me for being friendly with Pranay. He used to tell me not to make friends with Dalits,” she said.
The couple grew closer when they moved to Hyderabad for higher studies. Kumar pursued his engineering in Information Technology while Varshini studied fashion technology. “They thought of getting married after completing their education and were trying to go to the US to settle down there,” a relative of Kumar, who did not wish to be named, said.
The couple faced opposition when they informed their parents about their plans to marry last year. “Though we had no objection to the marriage, we were afraid of Rao, who is an influential businessman with political links. He even called me and warned me against encouraging my son’s love affair with his daughter,” Balaswamy said.
The couple married secretly at Hyderabad’s Arya Samaj Mandir on January 30 and continued to stay there. “When they came to us four months ago, we had no choice but to accept their marriage. So, occasionally, they used to come to Miryalguda,” Balaswamy said.
Rao refused to reconcile with his daughter’s marriage. “A wedding reception Balaswamy organised for the couple in Miryalguda angered him the most,” the relative said.